Superintendent Jett Update on Fall Activities for Secondary Students
Dear 742 Families of Secondary Students,
We have carefully analyzed the impact of COVID-19 on extracurricular activities against the potential harm caused by cancelling this important aspect of a secondary education. While we have chosen to shift our secondary schools to distance learning, we feel we can safely continue to operate our activities programs through the fall season. We will monitor the changing status of our community's health prior to deciding about winter season activities.
Activities are a critical element of our social and emotional support network for our students. We know that during the sustained COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing increasing rates of anxiety and depression for our students, particularly at-risk students at the secondary level, and we see our extracurricular activities as a safety net during these stressful times. Our students and coaches participating in activities are highly motivated to follow social distancing rules and other safety protocols knowing the potential consequences of a failure to follow these rules.
Our students participating in activities have signed participation contracts pledging to manage their social contacts and to timely report any symptoms, exposures, or positive COVID-19 status. We have been practicing with these safety protocols throughout the summer and into the fall activities season and have had good success keeping our students safe during their participation.
Some may wonder why we would continue with activities and not bring students into our schools for academics. Activities participation accounts for a small percentage of the hours during a school day and will rely on students and families providing their own transportation. Furthermore, the number of students who participate in activities are far fewer than the number who report to school each school day. The reduced amount of contact time and fewer numbers of students involved in activities compared to those impacted by in-person and hybrid learning equates to reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission through tight management, rapid response to potential exposures, and thorough contact-tracing.
While we understand the desire to limit non-essential contact, we believe that participation in activities offers a safe and well-structured opportunity for our students to maintain social and emotional connections with their peers and coaches. We take our responsibility to safely manage these programs seriously.